Head On (video game)

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Head On
Head On promotional flyer.jpg
North American flyer
Designer(s)Lane Hauck[4]
Platform(s)Arcade, Commodore 64, VIC-20, Game Boy, PC-8801, Sharp MZ[2]
ReleaseHead On
Head On Part II
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer
Arcade systemDual

Head On is an arcade video game developed by Sega/Gremlin and released by Sega in 1979. It's the first maze game where the goal is to run over dots.[citation needed] Designed by Lane Hauck at Sega/Gremlin in the United States, the game was a commercial success, becoming the fourth highest-grossing arcade video game of 1979 in both Japan and the United States.

Sega released a sequel, Head On Part II, later the same year. It also inspired a number of clones, as well as Namco's Rally-X (1980).


Arcade screenshot

Two cars continuously drive forward through rectangular channels in a simple maze. At the four cardinal directions are gaps where a car can change lanes. The player goal is to collect dots in the maze while avoiding collisions with the computer-controlled car that is also collecting dots while travelling in the opposite direction.


The game was developed by Sega/Gremlin in the United States, where it was designed by Lane Hauck. He came up with the concept in 1978, roughly around the time that Sega purchased Gremlin Industries. After the acquisition, a veteran Sega engineer in Japan had a look at a prototype of Head On and was interested. Hauck's original game design included a timer. At the time, Taito's Space Invaders had introduced the concept of "going round after round" so the Sega engineer suggested to Hauck that he should get rid of the timer and replace it with a Space Invaders like round-after-round concept, which Hauck subsequently implemented and later said was "a key to making the game big." After the game was complete, Sega marketed the game in Japan, while Gremlin in turn marketed Sega games such as Monaco GP in North America.[4]


Head On was a commercial success in arcades. In Japan, it became Gremlin's most successful export.[4] It was Japan's fourth highest-grossing arcade game of 1979, below Space Invaders, Galaxian and Sega's Monaco GP.[5] Head On was also the fourth highest-earning arcade video game of 1979 in the United States, below Space Invaders, Football and Sprint 2.[6]


Ports of Head On for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20 were released in 1982. There were numerous unofficial versions for home systems. Head On later appeared in the Sega Saturn collection Sega Memorial Selection Vol.1 and in the PlayStation 2 collection Sega Ages Vol. 23.

In Japan, the game was ported to the PC-8801 and Sharp MZ computers.[2] In 1991, Japanese magazine Gamest considered Namco's Rally-X (1980) to be a spiritual successor to Head On.[7]


A similar sequel was released the same year as the original: Head On Part II,[2] also known as Head On 2. Licensed clones were developed based on the title. One of the licensees was Nintendo, who modified and released their version as Head On N (ヘッド・オン・N, Heddo On N).[8][9]

Namco's Rally-X was produced as a successor to Head On.[10]

A spiritual successor, Pacar, was released for the SG-1000. The version features updated graphics, a faux 3D environment, multiple enemy cars that chase the player in varying ways, tunnels that exit the maze, and power pellets that are produced by the player to eliminate enemy cars. These additions make it more like a Pac-Man clone.

A mobile phone version of Head On titled Sonic's Head On was released exclusively in Japan in 2000.


Exidy's Crash was released in arcades the same year as Head On.[11] It was the seventh highest-grossing arcade game of 1979 in the United States.[12] Konami's Fast Lane arcade game, released in 1987, is a Head On clone with improved graphics and some additional features.

Head On proved a popular concept to clone for home systems. Clones include Car Wars for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A, Killer Car for Spectravideo, Car Chase for the ZX Spectrum, Dodge 'Em for the Atari 2600, Dodge Racer for the Atari 8-bit family, and Tunnels of Fahad for the TRS-80.


  1. ^ a b c Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971-2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971-2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. p. 131. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "1979". Sega Arcade History. Famitsu DC (in Japanese). Enterbrain. 2002. pp. 37-39 (38).
  3. ^ a b "Head On Video Game Flyers". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "San Diego's Gremlin: how video games work". San Diego Reader. 1982-07-15. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  5. ^ "ベストスリー 本紙調査" [Best 3 Paper Survey] (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 136. Amusement Press, Inc. February 1980. p. 2.
  6. ^ "Video Games". RePlay. November 1979.
  7. ^ ザ・ベストゲーム 月刊ゲーメスト7月号増刊 (in Japanese) (Volume 6, Number 7 ed.). Gamest. July 1, 1991. pp. 175―266. ASIN B00BHEECW0.
  8. ^ Gorges, Florent (2010). The History of Nintendo, Pix'n Love Publishing
  9. ^ "Forgottendo: 10 Nintendo Games You've Probably Never Heard Of". USgamer.net. Retrieved 2016-02-14.
  10. ^ Smith, Alexander (November 19, 2019). They Create Worlds. CRC Press. pp. 587―589. ISBN 9780429752612.
  11. ^ "Crash - Videogame by Exidy". Killer List of Video Games.
  12. ^ "The Winners of '79: Top Videos". Play Meter. 1979.